My husband and I divorced 13 months ago and he is already engaged. We have one child who is 13 and lives with us each half time.
We generally enjoy a good post-divorce relationship but this announcement has me worried about our daughter. I’m thinking of asking for more parenting time and if he doesn’t agree my lawyer is suggesting I initiate a modification proceeding.
She seems nice enough but I think it’s too soon. Ideas?
I received your letter one month ago and put it aside until today for a very specific reason. Today I am home from the out-of-town wedding of Mr. Patience and Understanding’s firstborn child who shall from this point on be called “Ms. Young Woman of Numerous Accomplishments.”*
What a perfect wedding it was: the setting, weather, and group of people there to honor this lovely couple could not have been better.
The reason I waited to answer your letter until now is to use the wedding weekend to illustrate why your concerns about your ex-husband’s remarriage are misplaced and unwarranted, at least at this point.
What Does the Wedding Have to Do with Kathy’s Problem?
Good question! Here’s your answer:
Nothing, really; I’m just struggling with ideas this morning. It was an action-packed weekend and we went early Tuesday for a mini vacation so I’m still trying to dive back into writing mode.
My former husband and his wife (The Canary in a Coal Mine and the Pistol) were invited to the wedding and we shared a cabin. We had a wonderful time and at the end of the weekend we were making plans for our next road trip: renting a motorhome and heading to the Oregon/Washington game next month.
To your point: These two joined forces not very long after our divorce as did I with Mr. Patience and Understanding.
Come to think of it, The Canary and I were still married when Tom and I met. We only finally got around to our divorce when Mr. PU expressed concerns about dating a married woman. He’s old-fashioned that way.
Here’s my point, and apologies for taking a while to get there:
Our Kid is Awesome
Our son Jake (hereinafter referred to as “Miracle Baby” because he was conceived in a hot tub) is 14. He is sometimes a typical surly teenager but on the whole he is a gift of a child: a young man with impeccable manners, a loving heart, and a real curiosity about people.
All four co-parents were showered with compliments for Miracle Baby all weekend by other wedding guests. Funny how that never gets old, does it?
A remark praising my son fills me with more pride and sense of accomplishment than any direct compliment ever could (unless you are admiring my ankles which are, according to Mr. PU, “spectacular” and one of my best features).
Not only do I believe Miracle Baby turned out so well despite the divorce, I know he has grown into the young man he is precisely because of the positive influences from his stepmother and stepfather. How lucky to have so much love and support in his life from four people who want nothing but the very best for him, don’t you think?
You told me in subsequent emails that your relationship with your ex is pretty good and you have no specific concerns about his new life partner.
In fact, your daughter and she get along quite well and your daughter is fond of her two children. Based upon that I herewith deliver you my pearls of wisdom:
Advice for Kathy:
- Do everything you can to maintain your positive co-parenting situation, including being supportive of this marriage.
- Check in with your daughter on her thoughts about Dad’s engagement.
- Be positive about the marriage when speaking about it with your daughter but if she has concerns she and her father should visit a professional to help navigate these new family waters.
- Reach out to your ex and his lady and suggest a meeting on how to best co-parent together in your new family paradigm.
- Be observant for any negative changes in your daughter but not too quick to blame her dad’s new family.
- Be grateful your ex has chosen a smart and accomplished woman (your words, not mine) who should have a positive impact on your child’s life.
- Until you have a good god-damned reason to do so, do not make any attempts to change your parenting time. Fire that lawyer immediately.
Ask yourself if it’s possible your feelings of “worry” about your daughter are actually feelings about being replaced by another woman in your ex’s life and to some extent in the life of your child.
First and foremost: no woman can ever replace you as a mom. However, this woman can be the cherry on top of your daughter’s Mommy Sundae. She is an ally; not an enemy.
Second, accept that you are indeed being replaced as your ex’s life partner. That’s the whole point of divorce, after all.
You wanted the divorce as much as he did so any feelings of jealousy or anger at his re-coupling with another woman are irrational. They are understandable, but they are irrational.
Do some thinking about how to accept your situation and make the best life for yourself and your daughter as possible. You have yet to start dating and I think it’s time, don’t you?
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*Everyone in my family will eventually have a cute moniker. To recap nicknames established thus far:
Husband Tom = Mr. Patience and Understanding
Jake = Miracle Baby
Ex-Husband Patrick = The Canary in a Coal Mine
Co-Parent Crista = The Pistol
Tom’s Daughter: Ms. Young Woman of Numerous Accomplishments
Additional names will appear in future blogs. Stay tuned.